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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Bono: U2 tax affairs 'in line with Irish policy'

Published 23/09/2013 | 05:00

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Bono meets a mother at an antenatal clinic in Accra on a recent visit to Ghana
Bono in a classroom during a visit to a school in Accra
The U2 frontman meets another local in the Ghanaian capital

BONO has given his most comprehensive defence of U2's controversial decision to move their business overseas, to legitimately avoid paying tax.

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The band, whose accumulated net worth is €805m, moved their publishing arm to the Netherlands in 2006 after the tax exemption for artists was capped at €250,000.

They have since received criticism and last May, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton singled out U2 in a speech during which she stated it was "not acceptable" that some companies were not paying their fair share of taxes to help pay for essential public services.

But now Bono (53) has said the decision is in line with government policy.

"It is not an intellectually rigorous position unless you understand that at the heart of the Irish economy has always been the philosophy of tax competitiveness," the Dalkey-based star said.

CRANKY

"Tax competitiveness has taken our country out of poverty. People in the Revenue accept that if you engage in that policy then some people are going to go out, and some people are coming in. It has been a successful policy."

By moving their publishing overseas, Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jnr, Adam Clayton and U2's manager Paul McGuinness were able to legitimately avoid paying tax on their royalties.

Father-of-four Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, continued: "On the cranky left that is very annoying, I can see that.

"But tax competitiveness is why Ireland has stayed afloat. When the Germans tried to impose a different tax regime on the country in exchange for a bailout, the Taoiseach said they would rather not have the bailout. So U2 is in total harmony with our Government's policy," he said in an interview.

"I think for many reasons people have taken a dislike to our band and to me. This is another one," Bono added.

"I have worked as an activist for all my adult life, and I think overall that no one can doubt we have been pretty effective. You can criticise me for a lot of things, but probably not for my commitment of time and energy to this.

"I think some people who criticise us in Ireland and America have a history that you can trace back to our opposition to Noraid (Irish-American fundraising for the IRA in the 1980s). A lot of others probably hate our music."

Earlier this month, the 'Beautiful Day' singer returned from a humanitarian tour in Africa to attend the funeral of his friend, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney.

"Every meeting I've had since I began full-time advocacy I have brought with me a book of Seamus Heaney's poetry," Bono said.

"I always think if you are asking somebody for something it is a good idea to give them something first. So I always give them Seamus's poems. This is from the Pope to every president I have ever met.

"Seamus has been with me on every journey I have taken", the U2 singer added.

Irish Independent

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